December 0003

Desert island. Janny da Vinci. A poem in Spanish. Two Victorian gentlemen


Ropkind Scharf wishes to apologise to Ropkind Scharf jr. for embarrassing him by revealing the nature of his bedtime stories. But he doesn’t actually feel guilty about it. The reader is welcome to substitute the name of their own offspring for Janny.

One upon a time it was so long ago it was still the middle ages, and there was a little boy called Janny Da Vinci. He lived with his mum and dad, and one year they got him a painting by numbers book for his birthday. They were amazed when he used up all his paints on the book, and got every paint on the right number, and that he had finished the book so quickly. "Janny Da Vinci, you’re going to be a famous, nay, a great artist" they said. And they were right! Janny Da Vinci went to Art School, and graduated summa cum laudae. Soon he was knocking on people’s doors asking if they wanted any old masters knocked up quick and cheap. Most of them said no, but in those days if you were an artist, you did most of your paintings for churches and places, and when Janny knocked on the door of the hideout of a gang of nuns, he wasn’t surprised when the leader of the gang, who was called Mother Superior rasped at him "Can you do us three holy pictures quick, for two gold ducats each?" And Janny said "Nae Borra!", and some chains clanked, and some bolts squeaked, and a key protested at being forced to perform an unaccustomed task, and a door was forced open for the first time in more years than anyone, including Mother Superior, who was getting on a bit, in fact, she was a frightful old bag, could remember, and Janny Da Vinci was inside! On his first commission!

"Listen good, kid" hissed Mother Superior. "We got dat schmuck, His Holiness, da Bishop of Orvieto comin’ roun’ soon, an’ we need some new decor to impress him. You gonna paint him three pics, an the first is to show da Holy Spirit movin’ throught da wonders o’ nature in da springtime. We’ll fill you in on de udders when you done the first, if we like dat one. You goddit?" And Janny said yes, he had it, and started work.

Twenty minutes later, he called out "Finished!" and mother superior shuffled into the room to see what Janny had done. What Janny had done was this: he had filled a broad canvas with a magnificent pastoral scene with a line of varied trees in the background, birds flying and chirping among them, and a herd of deer frolicking in the foreground. It was very beautiful. Right in the middle of the painting, he had placed a railway track, and on the track, he had put a huge red railway locomotive going very fast, and pulling a train of goods wagons behind it. On the front of the train, there was a sign saying "Danger! High Explosives!"

Mother Superior squinted at the picture and said "Reckon we can dump a reliquary or reredos or sumptin’ in fronta dat train. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys, I s’pose. Id’ll havta do".

Then she peered at Janny, and said "OK wiseguy, da next’s da mysteries o’ da cosmos, ta show da divine plan o’ God, or sumptin’, an’ no screw-ups dis time, if ya don’t mind".

Half an hour later, Mother Superior was slouching into another room to inspect a sumptuous canvas filled with eternal blackness, relieved, at the top and in the edges with twinkling stars, and planets. In the centre, there was a great big sun, with people in spaceships crashing into it. "OK, OK, I’ll get Steve da janitor to plaster over dem rockets" she spat. "Now you got ta do us an angel. Nothin’ fancy, just a nice simple angel."

So Janny painted a girl in a black leather space suit pointing a ray gun and saying "Make my day, bug eyes!"

"Lis’n bub! Dere’s no way dat’s no angel!" screeched Mother Superior, and Janny pointed at a feather he’d painted on the ground under the girl and said "See that? She’s moulting!"



Once upon a time there was a desert island. It was round, about five or ten metres across, and had a palm tree in the middle. There was a tiny little stream just behind the palm tree, and the water around the island was full of crabs. Although it was like a thousand other desert islands, this one liked its lot, and was contented and well adjusted. However, there was a time when something happened that left the island feeling puzzled.

One day a sailor was marooned on the desert island. He soon discovered that he could shelter under the tree, and gather coconuts from it. He could drink from the stream, and collect crabs from the sea. The island gave him everything he needed, and liked doing so, but the sailor was bored and lonely, especially after he had been there for twenty years. What he really missed was someone to talk to, but in that whole time only one ship passed, and that was at night when he was asleep, so he never knew anything about it.

Eventually, his luck changed. He woke up, and saw a beautiful girl standing waist deep in the sea, just a few metres from the island. He waved to her, and she waved back. He pinched himself, and he wasn’t dreaming. He said "Hello" to her, and she said "Hello" back. He started to talk, and she listened with pleasure. After all these years cast away alone on the desert island, there was of course only one thing he wanted to do to this attractive and apparently naked girl standing near him, and that was to talk to her, and he talked and talked and talked. After six hours of talking he realized she was still fascinated with what he was saying, and he knew they were getting on really well together, so he stopped talking for a while, and asked if he could come into the sea and stand next to her. She laughed gaily, and her laugh was babbling and playful. She said yes, so he rolled up what was left of his trousers, and paddled out, and stood next to her. He took a deep breath, and started to talk again. This time, he went on for twelve hours, and at the end of this time he had said everything he had to say. The girl looks a little disappointed that he had stopped, and he put his arm around her shoulders. She moved them co-operatively, and so he slowly moved his hand downwards. After a few minutes, the little finger on his right hand was just above the sea and parallel to it. Slowly and gently, he lowered it under the water. As he did so, he realized something was wrong, Down there his friend felt like a fish!

"Your’re a mermaid!" He said.

"Of course. How do you think I got here" she replied.

The sailor thought, and decided that the parts of her he could see were very pretty, and, after so many years cast away, he shouldn’t be fussy, so he sent his hand to explore some more. He could see that his exploration was welcome, and realized that there was something important he needed to know.

"Look, I’ve never done it with a mermaid before. How do we do it" he said.

The girl smiled beautifully, and said

"It’s easy. You just swim along behind me, and fertilize my eggs as they come out."



Camisas baratas no justifican relojes Ecuatorianos.

Veniste a verme,

Pero encontraste una tienda con ropa en promoción

Y tu te quedaste charlando y hacienda chistes.

Llegaste finalmente con sonrisas lindas y muy contenta.





One day Carstairs and Findlater were trekking through the Peruvian jungle, in search of the fabled lost city of El Dorado, with its hoards of gold. Much to the amusement of a tribe of local Indians, who were concealed in the undergrowth, and intended to remain that way, they were advancing along a promising-looking path which actually led only to a noisome swamp which was full of tapirs, anacondas, cannibal headshrinkers and worse. However, Carstairs thought he had the scent of gold in his nostrils, and was plunging ahead, hoping to beat Findlater and thus get the lion’s share of the loot, in the best sporting tradition. Poor Findlater, who was somewhat overweight, was red in the face, and was huffing and puffing in a desperate effort to keep up.

Suddenly, there was a rustle of branches, a movement and a thump. An animate object had appeared on the path in front of them! Carstairs and Findlater stopped dead, completely failing to notice the well-suppressed giggles from the Indians in the undergrowth. Carstairs was the first to speak:

"Thet objet, Findletter, is kwet lek a ket, bot moch biggah. Enitis orange end bleck. It is growlin’ lek a peffekly-tuned mezeretty ona cold mawnin’. Ey think it is a taygah, end it is hongreh."

They considered this surmise for a few seconds and then both simultaneously squeaked with fear. Findlater, who was now completely white, managed to open his mouth first:

"Ey thinkyaw ret Cosstezz. Shouldwonhonttit? Aid lake a naice taygahskin rog fothe lonj, emminthe pahle."

"Nachurelleir" replied Carstairs, "end yaw most go fsst. Efta yew!"

"Errnerr", contradicted Findlater, "Meh deah chep! Yaw too caned. Efta yew."

"Ofindlater! Frevvens sek! Won most nevah fogget won’s mennahs! Aynsist (teeth slightly bared here), yaw mostgefost. Ay ebbslootly insist. Thezza good chep!"

And so poor Findlater felt he had no choice but to advance along the path that had looked so promising, and now offered naught but stripey fury. Eager tremors of anticipation gripped the Indians in the undergrowth. This was much, much better than they had hoped.

The outcome was inevitable. There was a flurry of movement, and a blur of teeth and topee and blood and shredded starched shirt! A few seconds later, and the tiger sat in the middle of the path, a satiated smile on its face. It burped, and winked at Carstairs. Carstairs took this as a signal to proceed. As he continued along the path, towards his own certain doom in the noisome swamp, he muttered to himself-

"Wonken only wondah et may presence of mayned, end et thet of the taygah heah in the Proovian jongle. It mostev escaiped frommerzoo.

The Indians in the undergrowth could no longer contain themselves, and howled with delighted laughter.

Sincere apologies to the spirit of Effebeck Lodder, who did this sort of thing so much better while he was alive.